Quotes From Queen Elizabeth II That Capture Her Powerful Legacy

She had great wisdom—and an even greater sense of humor.

The Queen visits the British Airways headquarters
(Image credit: Getty Images ¦ Max Mumby/Indigo)

As people around the world begin the difficult process of grieving Queen Elizabeth II, reigning monarch of the United Kingdom for 70 years, we take a moment to look back on the vast wisdom she imparted on her subjects and all of us throughout her reign—always with honesty and a great deal of humor.

On her aspirations, 1935

"I should like to be a horse," the child Princess Elizabeth once answered to the question of what she wanted to do when she grew up.

On her husband, 1957

"I think Prince Philip is mad," said to a servant.

On marriage, 1972

"If I am asked today what I think about family life after 25 years of marriage, I can answer with equal simplicity and conviction. I am for it," as part of her silver wedding speech.

On difficult times, 1974

"We may hold different points of view but it is in times of stress and difficulty that we most need to remember that we have much more in common than there is dividing us," in her Christmas broadcast.

On peace, 1986

"There are many serious and threatening problems in this country and in the world but they will never be solved until there is peace in our homes and love in our hearts," the Queen said in her Christmas broadcast.

On Christmas, 1988

"May the Christmas story encourage you, for it is a message of hope every year, not for a few, but for all," the Queen said in her Christmas broadcast.

On family dysfunction, 1989

"Like all the best families, we have our share of eccentricities, of impetuous and wayward youngsters and of family disagreements," as quoted by the Daily Mail (via LibQuotes).

On wisdom, 1991

"But let us not take ourselves too seriously," Queen Elizabeth II said in her Christmas broadcast. "None of us has a monopoly of wisdom and we must always be ready to listen and respect other points of view."

Queen Elizabeth II and The Duke of Edinburgh

(Image credit: Getty)

On Prince Philip, 1997

"He has, quite simply, been my strength and stay all these years, and I, and his whole family, and this and many other countries, owe him a debt greater than he would ever claim, or we shall ever know," the Queen said of her husband.

On Princess Diana, 1997

"She was an exceptional and gifted human being. In good times and bad, she never lost her capacity to smile and laugh, nor to inspire others with her warmth and kindness. I admired and respected her—for her energy and commitment to others, and especially for her devotion to her two boys," in a speech to the nation following the Princess of Wales' passing.

On grief, 2001

"Grief is the price we pay for love," in response to the tragedy of 9/11.

On togetherness, 2004

"Everyone is our neighbor, no matter what race, creed or color," in her Christmas broadcast.

On growing pains, 2006

"The birth of a baby brings great happiness, but then the business of growing up begins," in her Christmas broadcast.

On courage, 2008

"When life seems hard, the courageous do not lie down and accept defeat; instead, they are all the more determined to struggle for a better future," in her Christmas broadcast.

On fashion, 2011

"I can never wear beige because nobody will know who I am," a remark relayed by royal biographer Robert Hardman.

On mindfulness, 2013

"We all need to get the balance right between action and reflection. With so many distractions, it is easy to forget to pause and take stock," in her Christmas broadcast.

On pacing ourselves, 2019

"It’s worth remembering that it is often the small steps, not the giant leaps, that bring about the most lasting change," in her Christmas address.

On the climate crisis and her family, 2021

"It is a source of great pride to me that the leading role my husband played in encouraging people to protect our fragile planet, lives on through the work of our eldest son Charles and his eldest son William. I could not be more proud of them," she said as part of her COP26 speech.

Iris Goldsztajn
Morning Editor

Iris Goldsztajn is a London-based journalist, editor and author. She is the morning editor at Marie Claire, and her work has appeared in the likes of InStyle, Cosmopolitan, Bustle and Shape. Iris writes about everything from celebrity news and relationship advice to the pitfalls of diet culture and the joys of exercise. She has many opinions on Harry Styles, and can typically be found eating her body weight in cheap chocolate.